ARC Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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Release Date: July 31, 2018

It struck her that she might spend the rest of her days like this: trapped in a beautiful room waiting for Serina to return, her own life a footnote. Unremarkable. Invisible. Forgotten. 

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In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace–someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

review

4 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

PROS:

  • Headstrong, outspoken, risk-taking women who fight for their sisters and stick up for the women around them. These girls were raised to accept gender stereotypes, to remain uneducated, demure, and submissive. Their whole purpose in life-if they weren’t training to be a Grace-is to work in a factory or be sold off into marriage. They were denied the power of knowledge, of words, of BOOKS. If they were trained to be a Grace, they had to look a specific way, eat enough to have “womanly curves”, speak only when spoken to, and were taught to deny their own opinions, their voice, and do whatever pleases the Heir. 
  • Love between sisters. I’m not sure that I have read any YA that fully captured the beautiful bond between sisters and their willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect one another. Nomi and Serina are opposites. They rarely see eye-to-eye and fight quite a bit, but they love each other with that bone deep, eternal magnitude that pushes them to survive when they are on the verge of giving up just to see each other again. Throughout the story, this feeling only grows and is reinforced through both actions and words. 
  • There is some SERIOUS heat between the couples. I had to stop and fan myself during one…kind of extensive scene. More sensual than sexual, but fire. 
  • Gladiators meet Amazonian women. Ruin Mountain has clans of women who each have their own subculture and are forced to fight to the death for food rations. They’re fierce, crafty, and willing to do whatever it takes despite their horrifying circumstances. 
  • The pacing is great. It flows, sucks you in, and it took me a little over a day to plough through.

CONS:

  • The “plot twist” was fairly predictable. It was so much like another book I read a year or two ago that I called it within the first few chapters. There are shades of The Sin Eater’s Daughter, The Red Queen, and Cruel Beauty.
  • While the world-building is fairly solid, I would have loved to hear more of the back story. The brief moments of history and the folklore were intriguing and those legends, it was like a new brand of mythology meets historical fiction.
  • Nomi’s twin Renzo. There was zero development there are hardly anything about their relationship prior to the Grace selection and yet, Nomi expects him to take life-threatening risks for her? There wasn’t a strong enough foundation or enough for the reader to care/appreciate the risk that was being taken. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review & Giveaway: The Butterfly and the Moonbeam by Kim Streible

BT BANNER.pngthebutterflyandthemoonbeamAMAZON | PAPERBACK | iTUNES | KOBO

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“The journey to womanhood is different for every girl.”

In this diverse and heart-wrenching debut novel that begins in the rural country of Kentucky in 1978, two sisters create a childhood for themselves among a dark reality they cannot escape. It’s a sweeping journey of two lives forever entwined in common experience and love.

Kathleen spent the first nine years of her life lost, when the death of her infant brother led her parents into a spiraling void of grief. When Lucy was born, she was life itself. For Kathleen, Lucy was more of a child, than a younger sister. Caring for her gave Kathleen’s life meaning, opening her to a new world of love and trust. When a series of tragic events separates them, each embark on their own path. Kathleen desperate to find her sister, and Lucy learning to exist in an unforgiving world without her sister to protect her.

Author Kim Streible crafts a moving coming-of-age journey about sisterhood, the tribulations of relationships and lasting love.

Excerpt
“Kathleen had wished for a different mother and father so many times. She’d even prayed for them to come and take her away, but instead, she got Lucy. She’d never even imagined having a sister. As it turned out, it was better than having new parents.”
Lucy turned away from the window and came to the edge of Kathleen’s bed. “Did Grandma Janie go to heaven?”

“I don’t know,” Kathleen said. “Probably.”

Lucy furrowed her eyebrows. “How do you know if you were good enough to go to heaven and not hell?”

“I don’t think there is a hell.” People seemed so much better at punishing themselves. Kathleen couldn’t figure a reason for a hell.

“Where do bad people go then?”

Kathleen shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe they just die. They lie in the dark, worms all around them and they decay and just, don’t exist anymore.”

“Don’t scare me,” Lucy said.

“I’m not.”

“Kathleen, please don’t lie.”

She shut her book. “I’m not. I’m not really sure. Some people believe in heaven, some people believe in nothing. Some people believe that you live on, that you are like energy and the energy just travels on to somewhere else, like maybe to the sea, or a flower. And some people think that they just linger around.”

“Their souls?” Lucy asked.

“Yeah, their spirits, like shadows behind a curtain. They are faint, but they’re still there.”

“Oh.” Lucy curled her fingers around the edge of the bed frame. “What do you believe?”

“I hope that we get to come back and be something wonderful.”

Lucy twisted her feet. “I’d be a butterfly.”

Kathleen smiled. “Yeah? They are pretty.”

“And they can fly.” Lucy walked around the bedpost and pulled herself onto the end of Kathleen’s bed. “What would you be?”

“Something eternal.”

“What’s internal mean?”

Kathleen laughed. “Not internal, eternal. It means something that goes on forever.” Kathleen crossed her legs, sitting Indian style on the bed, holding the book in her lap. “I know what I’d be,” she added, “a moonbeam.”

“A moonbeam? Would that be good?” Lucy asked.

“Sure,” Kathleen replied. “You cast down every night all over the world, people stand and look up at you from every point of the Earth. They dream of your mysteries, they tell you all of their wishes. They think you’re beautiful.” She looked at Lucy. “And you’d be part of the constellations.”

“What’s constetrations?”

“Stars.”

“Oh,” Lucy said. “Kathleen?”

“Yeah?”

Lucy looked at her. “If I’m a butterfly and you’re a moonbeam, then we get to see each other every night right?”

She smiled. “We sure would.”

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour

The Butterfly and the Moonbeam is a bittersweet coming of age story that celebrates the bond of sisterhood and the unconditional love that comes with growing up, confiding in each other, and learning to find beauty in life despite all the ugliness the world can throw at you. 

Kathleen and Lucy are surrounded by a cloud of grief, abuse, and depression, and yet, their love for each other allows them to find magic and happiness despite everything working against them. Their bond is beautiful, strong, and potent. Their love and adoration oozes off the pages and will fill you with such warmth.

Lucy is a curious little girl. She questions everything and is enchanted by everyday simplicity. Her wide-eyed wonder is contagious and will make you want to look at the world with new eyes. When everything starts to fall apart and she begins to see the darkness, it’s like being gutted, watching some of that light fade from such a sweet child. Lucy’s sections have a consistent and playful voice, full of curiosity. You can tell her age and it’s adorable. 

Kathleen has an unfortunate amount of pressure and responsibility on her shoulders, but she never once looks at Lucy as a burden,her love trumps that. This unfaltering care for her sister will earn your respect and root for her happily ever after. 

There are a ton of serious and common issues that are done so well and should be talked about-alcoholism, depression, loss of a child, mental, illness, and domestic abuse all feature in this story. Kim Streible does an amazing job at showing depression as if it were another person in the room, a living and breathing entity whose presence takes over like a toxic, dark sickness. 

The setting is in the 70s and the references to the time period are pretty spot on. You’ll feel transported.

If you’re not into coming of age stories or slower, everyday life drama, this may not be for you. The pacing was so slow for me. I really had to push. The story was griping, but I guess because it was a slower time, some sections really dragged and I got distracted. 

auth
Kim Streible grew up with a healthy love of books, music and movies. The telling of stories fascinated her. She has a current obsession with the band, The Pretty Reckless and has become increasingly nervous at the happenings on the Walking Dead. When she isn’t writing, you might find her pinning Batman and other goodies on Pinterest. She has authored over eight novels, including the steamy romance series Desert Pleasures, just published under the pseudonym, Zoe Blackwood.

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If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan